Robert Lewandowski hopes to torment his mentor Jurgen Klopp when Bayern Munich face Liverpool in Tuesday’s Champions League clash.
Lewandowski, Bayern’s top-scorer with 25 goals in 30 games this season, is relishing playing at Anfield when he leads the Germans’ attack in the last 16, first leg.
“I know that their fans don’t want us or me to score a goal or win, but for me personally, in such an atmosphere I’m even more energised
“That’s what makes it special for me and I’m excited to play in such a stadium. And if you win, it’s even better.”
Lewandowski arrived at Borussia Dortmund as a 21-year-old to work under current Liverpool boss Klopp when neither he, nor the German head coach were yet household names.
“He made a huge impact on my career. I have to be thankful to him because of what we did together at Dortmund,” said Lewandowski.
“We grew together and it’s led me to where I am today.
“He released that striker’s instinct in me and that allowed me to make the next step up.
“I didn’t know that I still had so much potential, more than I thought, and that means he saw something in me that I couldn’t see.”
Lewandowski scored eight goals in 33 games in his first Bundesliga season, when Klopp made his name with Dortmund’s first Bundesliga title for nine years.
More silverware followed in 2011/12 when Dortmund again won the title and added the German Cup with a 5-2 thumping of Bayern Munich in the final when Lewandowski scored a hat-trick in Berlin.
The Polish international cemented his status as one of the world’s best strikers by scoring all four goals when Real Madrid were routed 4-1 on a golden night in the 2012/13 Champions League.
Dortmund went on to lose the final to Bayern at Wembley and Lewandowski signed for the Bavarian giants on a free contract a year later.
He has now scored 176 goals in 225 games for Bayern.
Lewandowski sees the Anfield clash as a chance for Bayern to prove themselves after exiting the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid in each of the last two seasons.
“When you’re playing against Liverpool, a team that has so many good players, anything can happen. But for us, if we are ready 100 percent, anything can happen for us as well.
“In the round of 16, one mistake can make the difference.”
‘Nothing personal in beating Bayern Munich’ – Klopp
Jurgen Klopp has buried the hatchet of his old Bundesliga rivalry with Bayern Munich but wants Liverpool to show they are Champions League contenders by beating the German giants when the sides meet in the first leg of their last 16 ties on Tuesday.
Bayern have won the Bundesliga for the past six years since Klopp’s Dortmund claimed back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012.
Dortmund also lost the Champions League final to Bayern in 2013 and the rivalry between the two was intensified as Bayern picked off some of Klopp’s best players in Mario Goetze, Mats Hummels and Robert Lewandowski.
“It’s nothing, not a little bit personal,” said Klopp on Monday. “There were never any negative things with Bayern but when we played them or when they bought our players how could I be happy and say ‘Great, good idea I’ll bring him in my car.’
“That was not nice for us at Dortmund but it’s part of the business. In these moments I was not happy, but it is long ago.”
Despite reaching four semi-finals and a quarter-final since 2013, Bayern have not added to their five European Cup wins since Arjen Robben’s late winner at Wembley six years ago.
Liverpool also came close to adding to their five European crowns last season when losing out to Real Madrid in the final, but Klopp believes the fact his side are even considered contenders for the title now is a sure sign of progress since he was hired in 2015.
“The best thing of all the things we did so far since we are together is that we are a real competitor again. That is of course not enough, but it is a big step,” added Klopp.
“Being not only part of the competition but people thinking we can beat Bayern, that’s a big thing. The story so far is a nice one but not finished yet.”
Liverpool have had 10 days to prepare for Bayern’s visit, but despite the lay-off, Klopp still has defensive problems to resolve.
Virgil van Dijk is suspended, Joe Gomez is sidelined with a lower leg fracture and Dejan Lovren faces a race against time to recover from a hamstring injury, so Joel Matip and Fabinho are expected to form a make-shift centre-back pairing.
However, Klopp is hoping the power of Anfield’s famous atmosphere on a European night will give his side the extra helping hand they need to take a lead to Germany in three weeks’ time.
“In Germany, a lot of people talk now about the atmosphere at Anfield. There was a lot of talks that we are maybe the most emotional club in world football,” added Klopp.
“Emotion, in my opinion, is a very positive thing, so let’s show that tomorrow night.”